Honey contains a treasure chest of hidden nutritional and medicinal value for centuries. The sweet golden liquid from the beehive is a popular kitchen staple loaded with antibacterial and antifungal properties that has been used since the early days of Egyptian tombs.
India has the second largest population and the 9th largest GDP in the world. India’s healthcare system is expected to grow in leaps and bounds. The physical infrastructure is inadequate to meet today’s healthcare demands. With dynamic changes in the area of science and technology, the rapidly growing and aging population, lifestyle changes and the rise of the middle class are all factors that are creating significant opportunities, as well as challenges, for India’s strained healthcare sector. Small and sustainable changes can bring a lot more value. “We must focus on managing wellness to prevent illness”
An excellent age old remedy for all ages, Honey is a complex mix of:
• (80%) natural sugars – fructose, glucose and fructo-oligosaccharides which serve as probiotic agents
• (18%) water
• (2%) minerals, vitamins, pollen and protein including niacin, riboflavin,pantothenic acid, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
Broadly can be categorized into twо lаrgе grоuрѕ – hоnеуdеw аnd nесtаr hоnеу tуреѕ.
Nесtаr hоnеу іn turn іѕ dіvіdеd іntо роlуflоrаl hоnеу аnd mоnоflоrаl hоnеу.
Studies have proven that there was a large range of mean total mineral contents, with monofloral honey having the highest level (4060mg/kg). It is more than twice the mean total mineral contents. The heavy metal contents (Cd, Pb and Zn) of the mono-floral honey types investigated were very low. A strong positive relationship between mean conductivity and total mineral content (r(2)=0.973), and pH and total mineral content (r(2)=0.776) was observed in study.
There are many health benefits of this monofloral golden liquid –
1. Prevents and treats Allergies
It has anti-inflammatory effects and ability to soothe coughs. It has also led to the belief that it can reduce seasonal allergy symptoms. A common theory is that honey acts like a natural vaccine. It contains small amounts of pollen, which if the body is exposed to in small amounts, can trigger an immune response that produces antibodies to the pollen. “After repeated exposure, you can build up these antibodies and the body becomes accustomed to their presence so that less histamine is released, resulting in a lesser allergic response.”
2. All-Power Energy Drink
Honey is an excellent source of all-natural energy at just 17 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon. This natural unprocessed sugar, fructose and glucose directly enter the bloodstream and can deliver a quick boost of energy. The rise in blood sugar acts as a short-term energy source for your workout, especially in longer endurance exercises.
3. Boosts Memory
The sweet nectar is loaded in antioxidants that may help prevent cellular damage and loss within the brain.
4. Cough Suppressant
Honey can be the all-natural cure when it comes to pesky colds. A persistent cough that won’t go away can easily be remedied with two teaspoons of honey. Honey is believed to be as effective as the common cough suppressant ingredient dextromethorphan.
5. Aids good Sleep
Honey can promote restful and peaceful sleep. It can cause a rise in insulin and release serotonin — a neurotransmitter that improves mood and happiness. “The body converts serotonin into melatonin, a chemical compound that regulates the length and the quality of sleep”.
6. Treats Dandruff
Thanks to honey’s antibacterial and antifungal properties, it can treat seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff, which are often caused by an overgrowth of fungus.
Honey is as old as history is itself. It is difficult to appreciate the benefits of the good old days and the value of honey, in today’s world of convenience, high tech wizardry, junk food and sugar substitutes.
Honey experts will say this is the best kind because all the properties of that one flower whether medical or for taste concerns are gathered into a unique honey. Raw honey is often mono floral and is widely considered to provide greater health benefits than poly floral honey. Though it takes longer to make, it retains all the vitamins, enzymes and minerals from the flower. Poly floral honey is a more commercial way of producing honey. A hive gathers its nectar from many different flowers and therefore loses the individual properties of each in their honey. This is the most common honey that can be bought today.
• Monofloral: Honey made primarily from a single source including: Acacia, Pine, Orange Blossom, Lime, Rosemary, Thyme, Sunflower, Clover, Leatherwood, Eucalyptus
• Polyflora: Honey made from the nectar of many different flowers
• Blends: Combinations of different types of honey blended to achieve a particular taste rather like a blended tea or whisky.
There are many market players when it comes to Monofloral Honey. Few of them are:
• Honey Land New Zealand
• Lune Demiel
• Healthy alternatives
• Honey Land New Zealand
• QNET’s NutriplusTM Busy Bee
• Olea Europaea
• Fabindia Organics
However, almost all natural honey contains flavonoides (such as apigenin, pinocembrin, kaempferol, quercetin, galangin, chrysin and hesperetin), phenolic acids (such as ellagic, caffeic, p-coumaric and ferulic acids), ascorbic acid, tocopherols, catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), reduced glutathione (GSH), Millard reaction products and peptides. Most of those compound work together to provide a synergistic antioxidant effect.
Lack of published research in modern medicine, has affected its medicinal outreach. Honey can be used to overcome liver, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal problems. Honey exhibits bactericidal activity against many organisms including Salmonella, Shigella, Escherichia coli, Helicobacter pylori, etc. In an inflammatory model of colitis, honey was as effective as prednisolone treatment. Al-Waili and Boni (2003) demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects of honey in human after ingestion of honey. Honey, interestingly, has been shown to prevent reactive oxygen species (ROS)-induced low density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation in some in vitro studies, thus exhibiting beneficial cardiovascular protection. Honey also had antineoplastic activity in an experimental bladder cancer.
Antimicrobial properties of honey
Antibacterial activity of honey is one of the most important findings that was first recognized in 1892; by van Ketel. Honey can act as both bacteriostatic and bactericidal depending on the concentration used. In contrast, artificial honey (sugar solution which mimics composition of honey) was bacteriostatic only (at 20-30%) and not bactericidal. So consuming a good quality monofloral honey is very vital for health.
Article authored by:
Dr. Priyanka Rohatgi, M.Sc, PhD, ADND, PGCCGM (XLRI)
Chief Clinical Dietician,
HOD, Dept. of Nutrition and Dietetics,